Have you read Cipher Academy’s latest chapter? If you haven’t, prepare some medicine and a box of tissue because your nose might bleed from just reading. Cipher Academy once again makes headlines because the official translators of the manga had an impossibly difficult time translating it into English!
If you are unaware of this manga’s existence, it made noise during the late -ber months because of its unique and exciting plot. As detailed on ScreenRant the manga is a reminder that our favorite mangas are Japanese original works, and it is quite difficult to translate the whole thing into English.
Cipher Academy by Nisioisin and Yuji Iwasaki features a youngster called Iroha as he attempts to excel at a school based on codes and riddles. The manga has already incorporated some Japanese-specific wordplay, but the current chapter takes it a step further.
Cipher Academy and Its World of Riddles
Lipograms, which are phrases or paragraphs that remove a certain letter or syllable, are discussed in Chapter 10. Yugata, a classmate, challenges Iroha to a new spin on traditional Shonen fights using lipograms, with both players asking and responding to questions while avoiding particular syllables.
The chapter has several instances of these lipograms, which is really astounding given how difficult they are to create. Given how difficult it is to construct these without the additional constraints of matching the content and tone of the original Japanese, the English translation chose to simply transliterate the Japanese lipograms and provide a tonally appropriate translation alongside them.
This is most likely the best approach for translators to translate Japanese here. Shonen Jump’s official English translators have successfully translated challenging wordplay in other comics. This has ranged from Christine Dashiell translating the Japanese word game Shiritori in The Ichinose Family’s Deadly Sins to Stephen Paul translating Akane-intricate banashi’s Sango Jigo narrative. While each of these series is translated by a different person, these examples demonstrate that Viz is not opposed to converting wordplay into English when possible.
Creative series with brilliant wordplay, such as Cipher Academy, is a nice reminder of the rigorous and excellent job that manga translators perform to bring the weekly Shonen Jump chapters to a Western audience.
To all the smarty-pants out there who need a little challenge in life, you might be interested in reading Cipher Academy to exercise some of those brain cells!